1968 Chevy Camaro Body & Paint Work - Country Honk Revival, Part 5

Body & Paint

Terry Stevens Mar 1, 2006 0 Comment(s)

This issue of CHEVY HIGH PERFORMANCE may be labeled the "Paint and Body Issue"--but it's really the Body and Paint issue! Let's think about this for a moment: Has anyone else ever wondered why we say "Paint and Body," especially when the bodywork has to be done first? It's certainly one of those things that makes you go hmmm. Anyhow, when we last left the body in November, it was straight and ready for the metalwork and paint. Due to issue content, we decided to save the remaining juicy details for this month's special.

A typical car magazine cover blurb reads: "Paint your own car! Save millions of $$$$!" As we eagerly tear into the magazine and start reading, we notice there are usually quite a few caveats about all those "millions of $$$$" you will save, mainly that modern paints can be extremely hazardous to your health, you need a paint booth (or reasonable facsimile), and it will take millions of hours!

After carefully reading the articles and making an honest assessment of personal skill, it becomes intuitively obvious even to the most casual observer that while many of us can paint our project cars with some degree of skill, it is perhaps smarter to turn the job over to the professionals. In our case, we turned to local custom body and paint shop owners Jimmy and Heather Smith at Street Customs in Mooresville, North Carolina.

Jimmy and Heather graciously allowed me to assist in the body preparation, which is actually one place we all can save big dollars on labor costs by ensuring every piece of trim is removed from the body. Another pocket-friendly hint is to ask the body shop owner what you can physically do to help. Believe me, if you pitch in and sand, and sand, and sand some more, you'll more than likely develop a great appreciation of the hours of hand prep and huge amount of dollars just for supplies such as sandpaper, sanding blocks, masking tape (several widths), scuff pads, and build primer required to produce a custom paint job that will impress you and your friends.

4

Jimmy Smith rolled the stripped Camaro hulk into the Street Customs shop.

Bobby Livengood and I had already prepped every nook and cranny in the body with epoxy primer. This is the ideal time to completely cover the raw metal and seams with a high-quality etching primer and or sealer, followed by seam sealer. This will prevent the rust that plagued these cars 30 to 40 years ago after a gentle rainstorm.

Good morning, class! For those of you who were paying attention (this is not a pop quiz), you will recall the first body shop tried to "build" the contours of the car with body filler. Although Bobby and I had stripped out a goodly amount of filler, Jimmy immediately set to work and completely removed all the old body filler so the bent metal could be straightened properly...

...Filler is used to level low spots, and you will remove about 98-99 percent of whatever is applied with sandpaper. Proper final bodywork should provide for most of the leveling with a hammer and dolly, followed by a very thin leveling surface of filler.

After removing the old filler, Jimmy straightened the molding lip and welded on a pull plate, which is used to bring the metal back up close to its proper level...

...The result is a better-than-new fitment of the OE window-well trim. (Sorry, but GM never built them this well!)

Remember the "sand, and sand?"--get ready to spend many late nights getting your vehicle's body ready! James spread thin layers of filler and sanded them smooth, followed by thin layers of glaze--this fills without the air bubbles common to many fillers applied too thickly. This process could easily be repeated three to four times before the body is ready for final surfacing primer.

James took a break while Zach Puckett knocked down the high spots in the filler before the final sanding. Don't you just love the dust on the floor? Your wife will be delighted if you're doing this in your garage!

Zach smoothed the curled edges on the OE front header panel. Notice the lower valence panel from Goodmark. In addition, Goodmark supplied the steel cowl hood, front fenders, trunk lid, spoiler, and left door. Zach was tickled pink with the quality of the Goodmark panels, which only required scuffing the electroplating primer in order to be ready for paint.

Zach prepared the OE passenger door for primer...

...Note the amount of work as opposed to the scuffing of the new Goodmark fender.

Zach thoroughly wiped and cleaned the body and all the parts with DuPont surface cleaner prior to applying any primer.

Pay close attention! This stuff is hazardous to your health. Always wear a proper mask and filter if you are spraying any paint product. The first step is application of the DuPont etching primer, followed by the heavy-solids surfacing primer. Think of the etching primer as a thin layer that bonds chemically to the raw metal and grabs the primer as it is applied...

...The surfacing primer is applied thickly, then block-sanded completely smooth before final paint. Surfacing primer may be applied several times, depending on your preparation of the metal surface.

While I prepped the Goodmark cowl hood (hey, I had to stop and take a picture!), Zach continued to clean and shoot primer on all the outer pieces.

Remember the rear quarter that was replaced with a coupe quarter-panel, where Bobby had to replicate the undamaged convertible quarter...

...Which was the damaged side? You'll have to refer to the November issue or log onto www.ChevyHiPerformance.com for the answer!

Well, it's no Pilates, but bodywork can sure keep an old guy nimble and flexible. (I lost 10 pounds while working on this project.)

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